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My 1988 320i E30


So this is my first ever BMW (and the third car I've owned), a 1988 320i E30. It's a 4dr sedan, 5 speed manual with a set of original 15x8 BMW/BBS wheels which I got from Germany.

I bought the car around March/April last year for $6000, I think I over paid a bit much, but I'm not worried because I love the car.

I've had (quite) a few problems, but I'm slowly working on getting it running well again.

What I've done so far:
-Took the 16" BBS RS Reps off it and replaced with the original BMW/BBS wheels.
-DBA T2 Slotted & ventilated front rotors, solid rears.
-Standard Bendix brake pads
-Dot4 600F racing brake fluid
-Engine apart to replace head gasket
-New radiator

Plans for the future:
-Fix/replace air box
-Tune up
-Fix dash instruments
-New brake lines
-General reliability mods

As it stands today.

The first day I brought it home with the old wheels.
My E30 Rear.jpg

Changing the head gasket

Making them wheels spotless.

(Note, old thread was becoming messy and too big so I made a new thread to summarise it all and start again.)
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I dunno what to do guys, I need some input please. I can keep this Volvo project going, I'll have to sell the E30 and buy a tow car and a trailer, that will be costly, especially as I'm going to uni in July. Or what I'm thinking of is, buying a 318is E36 and swapping most of the running gear into the E30. I can get a sub 200xxxkm donor car for $5k, I've got the money to and am willing to do it, but do you guys think it would be worth it? My E30 body is really straight and no rust, the DOHC M44b19 only has a little bit more power, but it's lighter. I've read on other forums a lot of people recommend only swapping the M42 because it's easier to tune and wire, but I figure if I got the whole car it won't be a problem.

Let me know what you guys think, cheers.
It's a hard one mate.

There are short term plans, and long term plans.

Also to think about, is do you worry about spending money on the car(s), then getting to use them, then having to right off the money went it comes time to sell 'cause you can't get it back?

I've spent a lot of money on my car over the past 10 years, but had it on the track plenty of times, and it's a daily driver. Costs me money every now and then as it's getting older, but the way I look at it, this is my hobby. I don't rid expensive bikes, don't go out on the terps every Friday night and spend $200 or so, so this is what I spend my money on.

What is your short term goal? To have a reliable car that you can drive on a daily basis, or have one that you can track every so often?

General rule, you can only ever have any two of the three below, but never all three at once.


Some video I took of my car idling. Does this sound anything like your E36 did Blade?

Some video I took of my car idling. Does this sound anything like your E36 did Blade?
And revving it.

I know I've asked before, but the video should provide a bit of context, can anyone offer any suggestions to what the problem is? I'd like to think it's as simple as tuning the computer, but I don't think so, maybe the AFM like Blade or the O2 sensor.

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nah, cant say it really sounded like mine did. yours sounds like it slowly dies down then slowly picks back up over a couple of seconds? (little hard to tell between the mic on your camera and my crappy laptop speakers) mine sat normally for a few seconds then suddenly dropped for maybe half a second max. Didnt happen all the time and hasnt happened since i fixed the vac leak so i dont have any video/audio of it to compare. might have a hunt around youtube and see if i can find something similar.

EDIT- cant find anything similar, most seem to just fluctuate up and down. Also, does your tacho not work? Mine usually sits just below 1k but used to drop below the 500 mark. All i can suggest is to spray a fine mist of brake cleaner over all the vac lines and gaskets and listen for the idle to either pick up or drop. If it does, you have a vac leak wherever you were spraying. Failing that, try disconnecting o2 or maf sensors and see if it runs differently in its failsafe mode. Also, mine turned out to be that DISA valve on the intake leaking vacuum. (found with the brake cleaner method)
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When I got my car it ran like that, I'm not sure about the iacv on the m50 but m52 iacv bolts onto the bottom of the intake manifold. Mine had no bolts holding it to the intake so it had fallen off causing a big vac leak
Come to think of it, that might be a bit of problem on mine, I'll have a look, see if I can find a leak in it. There it connects to the manifold, it's just a metal coupling that could slide in/out pretty easily, I just assumed it was designed like that. I'll spray some start ya bastard around there like Gary did and try putting some teflon tape around it if it spikes.
I sprayed some Start Ya Bastard around the icv and it did spike, so I wrapped some teflon tape around that join, but it still spiked. I think it might be from where the TB connects to the manifold, so I'll take it all apart, put some gasket goo on the surfaces and have another go.

Also, does anyone know about how to check/fix a blocked cat converter?
no mate, on the cat... I did have one on the bench a few years back and was taking to it with a large hammer and chisel/screw driver... Apparently the internals are worth a bit of money (god it was hard to get them out.... took ages, they are so tough!)
If you can put up with the audio (it goes up and down so be careful if you turn your headphones up) you can watch how here.

Basically, you drill a hole in the pipe behind the cat and measure the air pressure of the exhaust with an air pressure gauge which should be really low. Then do the same in front of the cat and if it is much higher, in the video it was up at 5psi, then the cat is blocked. Then afterwards, you need to weld up the holes or get some metal plugs or something.
Alright, the car is in the shop now. I didn't get it sold so I'm keeping it now. Tacho, Odo and Speedo are getting fixed, idle is getting looked at and I'm getting a wheel alignment done for good measure. More updates to come.
well done mate, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get it to a place and spend your time earning the money to pay for it :)

I've got a flashing brake light on my car (which I hate!) and haven't had time to get it to the shop.... It's not causing any problem, probably something to do with the hand brake switch, but another thing to fix!

Would really like to recondition the 6pot brembo's I've got on the front... Looking for a seal kit.. I've been recording and watching Horsepower TV and Musclecar, love the shows and learning about tearing down an engine etc.
well done mate, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get it to a place and spend your time earning the money to pay for it :)
It actually came about after I moved out of home and mum lent me her (slow and mis-aligned) Camry to drive. I've driven it before of course, but you don't notice all the little things in one or two trips, but after driving it nearly every day... URRGHH, I just want my own car back that I can maintain properly and actually have it do something when I step on the throttle lol.
Alright, got an update for you. It's still at the mechanic, he's sent the dash away to get the speedo, tacho and odo fixed and he's waiting for it to get back so he can start on the other stuff. Here's something interesting though, before he sent it away, he did have a quick look at the timing, the computer said it's retarded and firing at 34-70 degrees, when it should be firing at maximum, 34. Which explains why it smoothens out at high revs as it all catches up to each other. It may well be a tooth out, but I'm 90% sure it's not because it was happening before we did the head gasket. Also, one of the mechanics found a lose hose and reattached it to the bottom of the throttle body, I'm not sure exactly which hose that it, it might have just slipped off, or it might be the hose coming from the charcoal canister we couldn't find where it attached to (neither of us remember taking it off to begin with).

That's it for now, hopefully I'll have more news soon.
I can't believe it, but my BMW is STILL with my mechanic and the head still hasn't been sent away to get tested. Told me on the phone a week ago he'd taken the intake off, but it was still bolted on when I went to see him today. Also, the glass in my instrument cluster now has a crack in it.
August. Yep. He did the first lot of work, then I told him to start the second lot start of January.
So, two months since my last post, he's finally got the head back last Friday and bolted it and the manifold back up. Finishing it up this afternoon, but the dash cracked while it was sitting at the mechanic so he's getting a new lens for it too, hoping he's not going to try and charge me for it considering how long he's put it off. What do you guys think, should I have to pay for the new lens or should he?